Australia to remove British monarchy from bank notes

Australia to remove British monarchy from bank notes

CANBERRA, Australia AP -- Australia is removing the British monarchy from its bank notes.

The nation s central bank said Thursday that its new $5 bill would feature an indigenous design rather than an image of King Charles III. The king is still expected to appear on coins that currently bear the image of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The bill, $5, was Australia's only remaining bank note to still feature an image of the monarch.

The bank said the decision was a result of consultation with the center-left Labor Party government, which supported the change. The role of the British monarch remains Australia's head of state, although it is largely symbolic. Like many former British colonies, Australia is debating how much it should retain its constitutional ties to Britain.

Australia s Reserve Bank said that the new $5 bill would feature a design to replace the queen's portrait, who died in September at 96. The bank said the move would honor the culture and history of the First Australians. The bank said in a statement that the Australian parliament will continue to be featured on the other side of the $5 banknote.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the change was an opportunity to strike a good balance. The monarch will still be on the coins, but the $5 note will say more about our history and our heritage and our country, and I see that as a good thing, he told reporters in Melbourne.

The Opposition leader Peter Dutton likened the move to changing the date of the national day, Australia Day.

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Dutton said that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was central to the decision for the king not to appear on the note, urging him to own up to it. The bank plans to consult with Indigenous groups in designing the $5 note, a process it expects to take several years before the new note goes public.

The $5 will be issued until the new design is introduced and will remain legal tender even after the bill goes into circulation.

The face of King Charles III is expected to be seen on Australian coins later this year.

The release of the 50 pence coin in December made the British currency transition to the new monarch. It has Charles on the front of the coin, while the back commemorates his mother.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said there were 208 million $5 notes in circulation this week, worth AU $1.04 billion $734 million.

Australia's smallest denomination accounts for 10% of the more than 2 billion Australian bank notes circulating.

Albanese s center-left Labor Party is trying to make Australia a republic with an Australian citizen as head of state rather than the British monarch.

After Labor won the May elections last year, Albanese appointed Matt Thistlethwaite as assistant minister for the republic. Thistlethwaite said in June there would be no change in the queen's lifetime.

Australians voted in a 1999 referendum proposed by a Labour government to maintain the British monarch as Australia's head of state.

When the queen died, the government had already committed to holding a referendum this year to recognize Indigenous people in the constitution. The government has dismissed adding a republican question to the referendum as an unwanted distraction from its Indigenous priority.

Queen Elizabeth II appeared on at least 33 different currencies at one time, more than any other monarch, an achievement noted by Guinness World Records.

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